I was at the dentist a few months ago and I said, “Oh, the baby’s at home sleeping.” The hygienist smiled with her eyes behind her mask and asked, “How old is your baby?” I had to pause as I said, “Oh my goodness, she’s going to be two.” Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t been in public in months and Coco hadn’t see the likes of other humans in what felt like years, but I hadn’t had to compute her age in a while and somehow in the midst of the craziness of 2020, my baby grew and became a little girl. I can’t believe she’s two.
While this year will be one we’ll tell her about for the rest of her days, it held so much goodness. With travel halted, she never had to kiss mama goodbye before work trips. With quarantine, we found ourselves living at the lake. With the slow down of the world, we found so many moments to just be present and together as a family.
I feel so so fortunate that we get to do life, the three of us, on the daily, crafting new routines like breakfast at the table, and mid-afternoon family runs. It’s been the slowest, quickest year of existence with half of me thinking that I blinked and a year passed and the other half of me thinking that 2020 has taken forever to pass.
As someone who had so many doubts as to if I could really be both an amazing mama and a CEO, I feel like this past year allowed us as a family to find that groove and figure out what that integration looks like. As Coco has grown, the depth of my “why” has heightened. I’m consistently questioning how I can raise a strong, independent, good human while feeling challenged to show up in all of those ways (and a million more) as her example. I want my daughter to see her mother fully alive, vibrant, excited, and passionate… I also want her to see me present, engaged, and invested in her growth.
A few of my highlights that I never want to forget:
- The daily adventures we went on. The nightly walks along the lakeshore, the bike rides up the hills and the runs near the waves. We put a lot of miles on your Burley stroller this year, and it was hands-down the best purchase we made in 2020. It allowed you to come on adventures with us and brought us so much joy.
- The countless hikes we went on. When we retired you into the more deluxe carrier, I wasn’t sure what you’d think, but every single day, I’d peek out the window of my office and watch you and daddy (and the dogs) wander down our long dirt driveway. On the weekends, we’d pack some snacks and pick a new place to hike and those are hands down some of my favorite memories of this year.
- Quality sleep, at last! Quarantine also brought us a new season of parenthood when you started sleeping through the night. My lanta, just the fact that you started sleeping all night long was such a blessing, but now you’re an incredible sleeper. I’ve got to thank the fresh Minnesota air for the assist and the fact that you love warm milk and alone time. It’s been such a gift to sleep through the night, and I’m in awe of the way you can clock 14 hours like it’s nothing. You are a dream.
- Your curiosity slays me. I love watching you think, learn, process. From eating with your utensils to balancing blocks to solving your puzzles or singing along to your favorite songs, the way you interact with the world and everything in it always invokes me to be a more curious human. You 100% watch everything we do and mimic us which I think is the best reminder that we need to exemplify the things we want for you.
- The way your sweet voice sounds. Hearing you say “Mama” melts me every time. I love when you whisper to bugs or call to the puppies or when your eyes go wide when I say, “Hey Coco, guess what?” You’re finding your voice and you say some funny-sounding words, and I just can’t wait to have conversations with you because your voice matters and it melts my heart.
- Getting to watch you and daddy find your groove has been just so incredible. You two have the best days ever and you’re always busy. I love how you enjoy your time with him and how he invites you into his projects so that you’re always doing something new. It’s THE best hearing your giggle in the other room or getting to listen in to your playtime with dad. You’re the luckiest little lady and I couldn’t do what I do without him being there for you.
- Potty training was an adventure! It took a little time, sure, but it reminded me of how proud I am of every little accomplishment. After a few days of naked time and some really close learning of your cues, we got it down and I smile every single time you clap for yourself when you use your potty. It reminds me that we need to celebrate the small stuff (yes, even pee!) You are such a smart little girl… and not needing diapers all the time is pretty dang awesome.
- Screen time exceptions for FaceTime. I’ll always remember the unique ways we’ve made memories with loved ones from family FaceTimes to your grandparents reading books through the phone. It’s been an interesting year of making memories and while 97% of our memories this year are just the 3 of us, we’ve squeezed in some meaningful times with our loved ones either in person or virtual that help you form those bonds with the people who love you the most.
- Every moment with you. All of the mornings waking you up, pulling your sweet little body out of your bed, and snuggling until you wiggle free, ready to take on the world and run to the balcony to yell, “Daaaad” to make sure daddy didn’t miss a minute of you. All of the nights putting you to bed reading the same books over and over again, singing “You are my sunshine,” and hearing your sweet little grunts when I finish praying, your method of saying, “Amen.”
This year held a lot of weight to it but every single day Coco brought joy just by being her mama. It was a year that was an awakening in so many ways but it was also a year of watching a little baby go from crawling to walking to running. It was a year where her growth reminded me that we’re all growing, too, and getting to watch her learn and try and experiment and explore brought all of that out in me. The journey to becoming a mom wasn’t easy and while motherhood holds its own highs and lows, we’re still the parents who stare at the monitor in awe that we get to raise this little girl.
Conley Kate, you absolutely transformed my world two years ago. It’s the greatest blessing of my life to be your mama, and I’m forever your biggest fan. I love the life we’re building together and I can’t wait to see what you do with this one life you have to live. This year flew by — like everyone told me it would — and I find myself looking at a little girl, a girl who is silly, smart, passionate, excited, and beautiful. Happy birthday baby girl, you are my sunshine! I love you.